National Runner-Up Vikings Named GNAC Team Of The Week
The Vikings set program record after program record in 2018, ultimately finishing as the national runner-up.
The Vikings set program record after program record in 2018, ultimately finishing as the national runner-up.

Monday, December 3, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. – A historic campaign for Western Washington came to an end last week at the 2018 NCAA Division II Volleyball Championship, earning the Vikings the selection as GNAC Team of the Week.

The Vikings started the week by cruising to victory in both their quarterfinal match (against Tarleton State) and their semifinal contest (against Lewis) before falling in a five-set thriller to Tampa in the national championship. The team finished the season with a record of 30-4, with the 30 victories all coming in consecutive fashion.

Head coach Diane Flick-Williams' team was led in the title match by outside hitter Abby Phelps. The First Team All-American recorded a 23-kill, 23-dig double double, putting a bow on a career that saw her finish as the program's all-time leader in kills (1,628) and points (1,850).

Junior Kayleigh Harper had a standout showing as well, compiling 16 kills in addition to a team-high seven blocks. That brought the middle's total up to 163 blocks for the season, ranking her No. 5 nationally.

The entirety of WWU's roster was made up of Washington-natives, as it has been (with the exception of one player) for the entirety of Flick-Williams' 19-year career.

"I am just thinking about who this group is, what they are and where they've taken us," said the head coach after Saturday's title match. "There aren't a lot of people who think that a bunch of Washington kids can take you very far. Volleyball isn't considered the mecca there but I think we proved that we have a lot of people who can play great volleyball in the state of Washington."

Flick-Williams remained positive while reflecting on the historic season, one that saw her team go undefeated from August 25 to November 30. 

"Thirty wins in a row, that's a lot," she said. "We missed it (the title) by one win, and in fact we missed it by just a couple points. In no way, shape or form are we going to say our season is based on that one match."

The Vikings' 25-3 (20-0 GNAC) regular season mark earned them the West Region's No. 1 seed heading into postseason play. They were the first team in conference history to finish with a perfect 20-0 record and just the sixth to emerge from GNAC competition undefeated.

Phelps, Harper and senior setter Brette Boesel were each named to the All-Tournament Team for their performances throughout the NCAA Championships. 

Western Washington's four-set victory over the Flyers in Friday's semifinal assured the program of its second national runner-up trophy in school history. The team's trip to the postseason marked its seventh NCAA Championships appearance in the last seven seasons.